For a change, councillors stood united to outrightly reject the idea of imposing house tax and hike in water tariff during a discussion on the Smart City project in the House on Wednesday. The House, however, approved the agenda regarding developing Chandigarh as a ‘smart city’. MC commissioner Bhawna Garg tabled the agenda of house tax at the end of the meeting, but it was not even debated.
The union ministry of urban development has asked the urban local bodies to pass a resolution declaring their intent to be a smart city as part of the selection process, and to submit it before July 30.
Former mayor Subhash Chawla said, “We welcome the Smart City concept, but will not allow new taxes imposed. Chandigarh MC can be among the richest civic bodies in the country, if UT administration gives us our due.”
He said the MC was not getting the grants as per its share and, also, most of the cash-rich departments were with the UT administration despite the fact that they were to be with the MC as per the Municipal Corporation Act. “Last year, of the Rs 690-crore share, we got only `400 crore. Taxes can be imposed only if we are short of finances,” he said.
BJP councillor Arun Sood said under the Smart City project, there was no clause that necessitated imposition of taxes. “The civic bodies have been asked to generate funds locally and be self sufficient,” he said.
Former deputy mayor Davesh Moudgil said, “I fully support the Centre’s smart city concept and guidelines should be circulated to all members of the House. In case the civic body wants to impose any tax, it should be made clear that what benefits the residents would get from it.” Joint commissioner Rajiv Gupta said, “As a part of the selection process for the smart city project, the Centre had asked us to give the details of internal revenue of past three years. We qualified on certain parameters.”
MC commissioner Bhawna Garg said the main focus of the smart city concept would be round-the-clock water supply, better sanitation and waste management. “Also, we have to make our revenue generation system strong to provide quality services in city,” she said.